Ferraro's rise and fall Role model: Inspirational political career ended with a thud in New York Senate primary.

September 21, 1998

WHEN Geraldine A. Ferraro ascended from borough politics in Queens, N.Y., to the U.S. House of Representatives and eventually to the national stage as a vice presidential candidate, it resembled something from the Great White Way. Broadway could hardly have scripted it better.

But something went awry between those encouraging days of 1984 and her final bow last week after losing in New York's Democratic primary for U.S. Senate.

Ms. Ferraro might have become spoiled or arrogant and thought she could make it on former glory. She entered the race 25 percentage points in front, but squandered the lead royally and lost, amazingly, by that same margin, 26 percent to 51 percent for Rep. Charles E. Schumer, who now faces Republican Sen. Alphonse M. D'Amato in November. Ms. Ferraro surely miscalculated in delaying entry into the race until last January. She began, and remained, far behind in fund raising.

Ms. Ferraro, the first female candidate for the vice presidency on a major party ticket, was a darling of the women's movement, a role model, a star -- no matter that she and Walter F. Mondale, who headed the ticket, were enormous underdogs against a real former Hollywood star, President Ronald Reagan. She was an inspiration for women to enter politics, and they did in legions: California has two female senators, and two women are squaring off in Washington state for a Senate seat.

Geraldine Ferraro helped pave the way.

Ms. Ferraro made significant contributions to national politics. We hope her future holds more than facing off against Pat Buchanan on "Crossfire."

Pub Date: 9/21/98

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